While much attention over the decades has been focused on how body image impacts women, body-acceptance issues have become increasingly prevalent among men.
When it comes to men who have sex with men (MSM), social pressures to aspire to certain body type have an ongoing area of concern that has been countered within LGBT communities by various body-positive movements, such as gay bear culture which arose in the 1970s for men with larger, hirsute bodies.
But tech-developments in our media-saturated society have ramped up the volume of images that individuals are inundated with on a daily basis—which can compound stress upon those suffering from body dysmorphia or eating disorders.
For instance, gay male publications are increasingly sending out clickbait P&A (pecs and abs) tweets or posts on social media in an attempt to garner web hits. Hookup and online dating apps heighten pressure to attract attention all based on one glance. Marketing and gay male porn commonly display very similar body types: muscular, lean, and usually white.
In response to all of this, Vancouver's queer male health resource Health Initiative for Men (HIM) is launching an eight-week body-image group called Every Body to help guys who are struggling to accept their bodies.
Therapists and social workers will lead the group and incorporate group discussions, cognitive behavioural therapy, guest speakers, readings, and resources that will help participants discuss how body image impacts self-esteem and self-acceptance.
All activities are designed to help stimulate change in thoughts, behaviours, and feelings about physical appearance.
The group will accommodate a maximum of 12 participants, who will be welcome to share their experiences, thoughts, and feelings and to listen to others in a confidential environment.
This body-positive group will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursdays from March 8 to April 26 at the HIM Vancouver office (310–1033 Davie Street).
The cost is free or by donation.
For more information or to register, call 604-488-1001 or email. For more information about HIM, visit the HIM website.